HEALTH /​SCIENCE

Uncharted Territory

Science and technology march along, year after year, making gradual progress in transforming our lives. Every now and again, however, a public event is staged — the moon landing, a computer playing a chess champion, decoding the human genome — that gives the public the appearance of a breakthrough.

Found in Translation

Come on, Ima, vamanos! That was the exhortation from my 3-​year-​old recently when she wanted me to hurry up and get out the play dough. Like now, Mommy — before I scream…

The Pittsburgh Project

The year is 2020. You’re driving home from work, listening to your favorite satellite radio station. An announcer interrupts with breaking news: Smallpox has broken out in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of patients are flooding hospitals, with untold more infected. The public is panicked. Local officials are scrambling to maintain control.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Pasteur’s Quadrant

Among scientific researchers, you’re in the zone if you can create something that falls into what is known as Pasteur’s Quadrant. Back when the National Academy of Science was getting organized, its president, Vannevar Bush, developed a methodology for allocating federal funding by classifying research as either basic or applied.

The End of Smallpox

There are a lot of reasons why people believe Dr. D.A. Henderson was the best person to lead the successful effort to eradicate smallpox from the planet in the 1960s and 1970s. Usually they revolve around his intellect (unquestionably world class), his training (schooled in “shoe leather epidemiology” by his…

Electrifying Knowledge

In 1995, Carnegie Mellon University’s Professor Raj Reddy organized a meeting in Shadyside of the world’s foremost digital thought leaders to discuss the feasibility of electronic libraries. The idea of very large Internet libraries had been gestating in Reddy’s mind for about 15 years, but it was not until then…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

We, robot

A decade ago, the Wall Street Journal gave Pittsburgh the moniker “Roboburgh” when compiling its list of the nation’s 13 hottest high-​tech regions. The Steel City is living up to its 21st-​century nickname, making new its rich history of engineering complex things.

Planetary Hollywood

First the lights dim. In the darkness, you feel the intense drumbeat and techno-​pop rhythms of the synthesizer pounding deep in your gut. Next a fiery, red globe materializes above you like a cosmic disco ball of galactic proportions. Look left and a futuristic spacecraft emerges from the solar system…

Moving Beyond Mayview

When the state Department of Welfare announced last year that it would close Mayview State Hospital by Dec. 31, 2008, officials explained what would happen to the remaining 200 patients and said the closure would allow patients to receive community-​based care.

It’s Pay Dirt

Graham Hatfull, Ph.D., is clearly pleased when presented with a film canister brimming with soil dug from a Penn Hills back yard. Common, every day dirt.

The Jet Set

Amadeo Marcos was the first surgeon to take a piece of liver from a healthy living donor and successfully transplant it into an unrelated critically ill patient. In the nine years since, he’s done more of these complex surgeries than anyone. Topping his vitae is his current position, chief of…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Death cycle

In 2004, the region’s two largest hospital systems sought to redraw the map of Pennsylvania. Although their hospitals, clinics and headquarters all sit in and around Allegheny County, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and West Penn Allegheny Health System asked Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly,…

Head Honchos

For five years, Chet Mathis, fellow University of Pittsburgh scientist Dr. Bill Klunk and a team of chemists designed hundreds of chemical compounds looking for one that would open the door to the discovery of a drug capable of taming Alzheimer’s disease.

The Two Sides of Jonas Salk

The recent celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the University of Pittsburgh’s polio vaccine recalled one of the great moments in Pittsburgh history. Led by Dr. Jonas Salk, the scientists were armed with expertise, belief and will. I got to know Salk just 11 years ago and wrote a three-​part…

A Medical Giant in Our Midst

The year is 1958. Northwestern University nominates one of its bright young physicians, Thomas E. Starzl, for a prestigious Markle Scholarship. He is told to come up with a big idea to propose during his interviews with the selection committee.
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